Once Nooranna returned from maternity leave and took up her role of Corporate Partnerships Manager, I was invited to stay on at Smile Train and work to support the team across three areas of fundraising: Corporate Partnerships, Trusts & Foundations and Direct Marketing.
Corporate Partnerships: Staying within Corporate meant that I mainly helped Nooranna transition back into her role, providing her with some key updates and exciting news. For example, whilst she’d been away, we’d signed Sooty (from the children’s TV show, Sooty & Sweep) to be a global ambassador for Smile Train, and some of our partners’ employees had completed amazing challenges like a 165 mile bike ride (which had raised thousands of pounds). Although I had less contact with corporates directly, I was excited to work on a very exclusive event with Gucci. Held at their Bond Street store, I spent the day talking to customers about our work and in the evening the shop opened to invite-only guests with proceeds from purchased items donated to Smile Train. I’d never set foot inside a designer store before, so spending the day in Gucci was kind of surreal. Everyone was incredibly friendly (nothing like ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ thank goodness!), and it was great to be part of such a glamorous evening. As I’ve always said, my favourite part of this job is talking to our wonderful donors, and it was great to meet some new faces and discuss our work in such a beautiful setting.
Trust and Foundations: Trusts and foundations are usually grant-giving organisations which have criteria for providing funds for selected causes. I helped our Major Gifts Manager research potential new grants and helped identify funds that we could be eligible for. Whilst maybe not the most fast-paced of roles, it’s really heart-warming to see the scale of these organisations and learn about the thousands of good causes people are working on.
Direct Marketing: I’d been lucky enough to gain some marketing experience whilst still studying at university, so this felt like a brilliant opportunity to use my English degree and marketing skills to help raise funds for Smile Train. I gradually learned the basics of some channels Smile Train use to tell our messages around the world, how we tell our patients’ stories and how we communicate with our amazing supporters. I learned a lot about how we manage to keep in touch with our donors through letters and I was able to copywrite and edit a few mailings myself, ensuring letters were sent out correctly with accurate details of our patient stories. It felt so important to explain our work and it was incredibly rewarding when our supporters would be inspired by a patient or hospital partner story to continue giving to us to transform even more lives.